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Arrested Journalist, July 31 Protest Organizer Appearing in Court Facing Charges of Inciting Violence


Zimbabwe Journalist Hopewell Chin'ono and Transform Zimbabwe Leader Jacob Ngarivhume

Tranform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume and investigating journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, who are facing charges of inciting public violence, are currently appearing in court.

The duo’s legal attorneys claim that the two were abducted from their homes by suspected state security agents.

Beatrice Mtetwa, representing Chin’ono, said indications are that his client was abducted by people who broke into his Chisipite home in Harare. Members of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights - Gift Mtisi and Douglas Coltart – are also representing Chin’ono.

Chin’ono and Ngarivhume are facing charges of contravening Section 187 (1) (a) as read with section 37 (1) (a) (i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23, “incitement to participate in public violence.”

Section 187 (1)(a) stipulates that “any person who, in any manner, communicates with another person intending by the communication to persuade or induce the other person to commit a crime, whether in terms of this Code or any other enactment; or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that the other person may be persuaded or induced by the communication to commit a crime, whether in terms of this Code or any other enactment; shall be guilty of incitement to commit the crime concerned.”

Hopewell Chin'ono and Jacob Ngarivhume appearing in court in Harare, July 22, 2020. (Photo: Thomas Chiripasi)
Hopewell Chin'ono and Jacob Ngarivhume appearing in court in Harare, July 22, 2020. (Photo: Thomas Chiripasi)

Section 37 subsection (1)(a)(1) also stipulates that “any person who acts together with one or more other persons present with him or her in any place or at any meeting with the intention or realising that there is a real risk or possibility of forcibly disturbing the peace, security or order of the public or any section of the public shall be guilty of participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, a breach of the peace or bigotry, as the case may be, and be liable to a fine not exceeding level ten or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both.

“The crime of participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, a breach of the peace or bigotry is committed whether the action constituting it is spontaneous or planned in advance, and whether the place or meeting where it occurred is public or private.”

According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the law enforcement agents alleged that Chin’ono allegedly posted various messages on his Twitter account using the handle @daddyhope between May 2020 and July 2020 calling upon Zimbabweans across the country to engage in acts of public violence against the government on 31 July 2020.

The journalist allegedly posted several messages on Twitter which read; “@Ngarivhume and many others have come to put their hands up and said they will lead anti-looting demo on 31 July”, “Zimbabwe will never be free from looters through elections it is just a waste of time” and “If you feel like shouting#zanuPFMustGo and Mnangagwa and his regime has failed, how they will go will be determined by history and yet Mnangagwa refuses change will come by any means.”

ZRP members alleged that by posting such messages Chin’ono intended to disturb the peace, security or order of the public.

The law enforcement agents also raided Chin’ono’s residence late on Monday evening looking for some gadgets, including laptops and mobile phone handsets.

Ngarivhume, who is represented by Moses Nkomo of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, allegedly incited Zimbabweans to revolt against President Mnangagwa.

Ngarivhume posted a message on twitter a few hours before he was arrested saying, “When I proposed a national demonstration I knew the risks. But it is sickening for the state to pretend to care about COVID 19 lives yet send me messages threatening to kill me and my family.”

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